16 senators pushing to resurrect ABS-CBN’s dead franchise

Published January 6, 2021, 7:59 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

At least 16 senators are now pushing for the renewal of the congressional franchise of broadcast network ABS-CBN.

A list released by Senate President Vicente Sotto III to media on Wednesday showed that more members are supporting the revival of ABS-CBN’s franchise as proposed under his Senate Bill No. 1967.

Aside from the Senate chief, also listed as co-authors were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto; Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri; and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

Senators Panfilo Lacson, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Lito Lapid, Emmanuel “Manny” Paqcuiao, Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III and Leila de Lima were recorded as authors to the bill.

Sotto said more senators may want to co-author the measure.

The Senate chief on Monday, January 4, filed Senate Bill No. 1967 which seeks to renew for another 25 years the legislative franchise granted to ABS-CBN, which was forced to shut down following a cease and desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in May, 2020.

Two months later, the House of Representatives legislative franchises committee then rejected the broadcast firm’s bid for an extended franchise.

Pangilinan, in a statement on Wednesday, welcomed his colleagues’ move to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“Sa mga nakalipas na buwan, nakita natin ang kahalagahan ng ABS-CBN lalo na kapag may bago o anumang kalamidad. Sa mga ganitong pagkakataon, umaasa ang ating mga kababayan sa radyo at TV para sa mga impormasyon na nakakaligtas ng buhay at kabuhayan (In the past few months, we saw the importance of ABS-CBN especially during calamities. During these times, our countrymen are depending on radio and television to provide them with information that could save lives and livelihood),” Pangilinan said.

He said latest attempt to grant ABS-CBN a fresh franchise, is “good news not only for the 11,000 employees who lost their jobs…but also for the entire country that is thirsty for information.”

Under the Constitution, franchise bills must be approved first in the House of Representatives before they are formally tackled in the Senate.

Sotto earlier said there “could be a better chance” for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal due to the new House leadership under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.